A Study on Religious Believes of Anglo-Saxon Society based on The Seafarer, The Wanderer, and The Wife’s Lament
Synthesis Essay on the Anglo-Saxons
The Anglo-Saxons were a religious group of people as other generations of people were. Religion played a role in the Anglo-Saxon people’s lives and as a result it reflected in their writings. Poems written by the Anglo-Saxons have shown significant signs of religious influence including “The Seafarer,” “The Wanderer,” and “The Wife’s Lament.” Each writer of each poem gives their own testament regarding God’s influence on their situation. The Anglo-Saxon practiced their belief beyond religious establishments by writing of them within their poems.
The Anglo-Saxons seemed to have correlated their everyday lives to their religious beliefs as shown in “The Seafarer.” The poem is written by a man fond of the sea and mentally drained by dwelling on the land. He understands the hardships of travelling by sea but simply cannot stay away. “Grown so brave, or so graced by God, That he feels no fear as the sails unfurl…” The writer is fearless of what the sea offers and correlates his bravery to being graced by God. Religion may have motivated many actions amongst the Anglo-Saxons as they believed to be protected and thus fearless.
The Anglo-Saxon people being religious had no conflicting ideals of evolution instead pointing to God for it all. The writer goes on to talk about how God essentially created the Earth and life itself. “We all fear God. He turns the Earth, He set it swinging firmly in space, Gave life to the world and light to the sky. Death leaps at the fools who forget their God.” Scientific beliefs such as evolution may have been non-existent to the Anglo-Saxons as the writer of “The Seafarer” notes on how everyone fears God and how He gave life to the world. Religion played a key role to everything the Anglo-Saxons believed in from their everyday activities to basis of life itself.
The Anglo-Saxon’s often looked to religion and God in times of distress to mediate the best of a bad situation. As shown in “The Wanderer,” the writer finds himself alone following the slaughter of many people he had once knew. With nowhere else to turn, the speaker turns to his religion for comfort. “This lonely traveller longs for grace, For the mercy of God…” The speaker falls to God in his lonesome travels to remedy the hardships he had just experienced. The Anglo-Saxons believed and stood by God’s impact on their lives despite what they’ve been through.
The Anglo-Saxon people went to God and religion as a reason behind everything they do. “It’s good to find your grace In God, the heavenly rock where rests our every hope.” The speaker goes on to state how giving your life despite hardships to God is good as religion holds all the hope in the world. “The Wanderer” gives example of one dweller of many who may have found themselves in a lonesome situation who in turn, turned to God. The Anglo-Saxon people believed in religion greatly as their only source of hope through hardships such as war.
As supported by “The Wanderer” speaker, the Anglo-Saxon’s sought after religion during times of distress. “The Wife’s Lament” is a poem written by the ‘wife’ of a man who seemingly is exiled himself and the speaker seeks him. The speaker in the poem however is exiled herself and forced by her husband’s kinsman to remain in the woods “in the den of the earth.” “Blithe was our bearing often we vowed that but death alone would part us two naught else.” The speaker motions towards her marital vows towards her husband to counteract his decision to hold her in the woods against her will. Marriage often seen as a lifelong relationship established by God, the speaker feels her Lord betrayed both her and God by abandoning her and their commitments.
As with all religions, the Anglo-Saxons consisted of individuals who had went against their beliefs. “May on himself depend all his world’s joy.” The speaker wishes upon the “curse” that her husband depend on everything given to him on Earth rather than what awaits him later in the afterlife. The speaker in “The Seafarer” notions at how the wealth of the world does not reach the Heavens nor does it remain important when you die and thus the wife wishes her husband depends heavily on the joys he experiences now. Religion to the Anglo-Saxon’s explained every aspect to their life including marriage and those who opposed it were seen as deserters as noted in “The Wife’s Lament.”
Religion explained many aspects within the Anglo-Saxon’s lives through the three poems, “The Seafarer,” “The Wanderer” and “The Wife’s Lament.” The three speakers of the poems noted God’s ability to guide them through times of distress and as a result gave their life to their faith. The three poems reflected the impact of religion to Anglo-Saxon people’s lives and thus this was reflected in their writings.
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